It is often said that the Devil has all the good tunes, Rock ‘n’ Roll was denounced as the Devils music and even a whole genre ( heavy metal ) is believed to be almost utterly devoted to his Satanic majesty. Think of ‘ Devil Inside ‘, ‘ Sympathy for the Devil ‘ and ‘ Devil with the Blue dress on ‘. * Now there are obviously some great tub-thumping hymns devoted to the singing the praises for other side, and I love belting out a good hymn, but my money is with the big bad red guy as far as music goes. But this has set my mind racing what about food? What meals sustain the heavenly host and what fuels the fires of the ole devil and which is best? Americans are rightly proud of their Angel Cakes and almost every party must have a tray of Devilled eggs but what other ethereal recipes are there?
* INXS, The Rolling Stones and Van Halen
The Charlie Daniels Band and surely the devils greatest tune
In the grand tradition of Edwardian English dinning before even I was a trainee, a savoury course ended formal dinner party menus and quite often this comprised of Angels and Devils on Horseback. The former are oysters wrapped in bacon and the latter pitted dates stuffed with mango chutney similarly enclosed, both are grilled or baked and served on hot buttered toast garnished with watercress. I am exceedingly partial to both Angels and Devils so the result of this contest is a draw. But I am glad to say I do have a winner, one of my favourite all-time dishes Devilled Lambs Kidneys.
Like the ubiquitous eggs, the spicy ham of the same name and countless other dishes a devilled dish like Devilled Lambs Kidneys has a piquant, spicy flavour usually from the addition of Cayenne pepper and / or strong mustard. In a biography published in 1791, Samuel Johnson’s biographer James Boswell referred to partaking of a dish of “devilled bones” for supper. The bones were generally those of cold poultry, game or beef. The pieces of meat were covered with what was then called devil sauces. This is probably the earliest published use of the word “devil” as a cooking term meaning “to cook something with hot spices or condiments. Most Food historians believe that the term was adopted because of the connection between the devil and the excessive heat in Hell.
Devilled Lambs Kidneys on Toasted English Breakfast Muffin serves 4
Of all the offal available with the possible exception of Sweetbreads, kidneys are my personal favourite, from a delicious calves’ kidney roasted in a blanket of its own fat to sweet lambs kidneys pan-fried on toast. Kidneys are best flash fried very quickly over a high heat or braised nice and slowly. As offal kidneys are best consumed within 24 hours of purchase. Devilled Lambs Kidneys are a delicious starter, suitable for a light supper or an indulgent breakfast dish.
8 English Breakfast Muffins
12 Lambs Kidneys ( ask your butcher to trim them )
A little milk
2 small Shallots, peeled and very finely diced,
2 cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed
A small glass of Brandy
100 ml very thick Double Cream
50 gr Butter
A good glug of quality Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
3 – 4 tablespoons Plain Flour
½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper ( more if you wish )
A generous shake of Worcestershire Sauce
Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
First, prepare your kidneys by cutting them in half and removing the veins with a small sharp knife or sharp scissors. If your butcher will do this for you even better, just ask him for 8 halved and trimmed kidneys. Place the prepared kidneys in a small plastic container and cover with milk to soak out any remaining bitterness. Cover and place in refrigerator.
Cut your muffins in half and heat a glug of olive oil and half the butter in a large, thick-bottomed, sauté pan. Sauté the muffins on both sides until golden brown, remove drain on kitchen paper and keep warm. Drain the kidneys and pat dry with more kitchen paper. Mix the flour, Cayenne and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper together and thoroughly dredge the prepared kidneys.
Heat the remaining oil and butter together in a second large, sauté pan and cook the shallot without colouring until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and fry for a couple more minutes stirring occasionally then add the kidneys and cook quickly until the kidneys change colour and start to brown. Flip the kidneys over and add the brandy and flame off the alcohol then add the mustard. Stir continuously and pour in the cream and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for two minutes to cook out and slightly thicken the sauce then remove from the heat. Check and correct the seasoning and add a little more cayenne if you like a bigger kick.
Place a toasted muffin on each plate to with the devilled kidneys and sauce on top, garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
What to Drink? The Devilled Kidneys served at the renowned chef Fergus Henderson’s London restaurant St. Johns are paired with Pol Roger Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill Champagne 2004, which is perhaps a little expensive so I will settle for their other suggestion a glass of Black Velvet.
Allergens in this recipe are;